30. Uluslararası Film Festivali 2-17 Nisan 2011 Close

35. Istanbul Film Festival (2016)

Cinema Honorary Awards

Suzan Avcı

And Suzan Avcı… At the time when 300-plus films were produced in Turkey, many actors have passed through Yeşilçam, but few of them attained iconographic status. Suzan Avcı is one of them. In compliance with the traditional disunity of public morality based on hypocrisy, the ingénue star of the film was for “love”, whereas the supporting actress was for “sex”. The Devil-serving power of seduction of femmes fatales was usually symbolised by blonde actresses, and this blondeness found its zenith in Suzan Avcı. What gave Suzan Avcı her iconographic status was not only her accomplishment in portraying homewrecking, beautiful women, but also her embodiment of secret longings, suppressed desires, and unrealised strength of every woman. Suzan Avcı’s acting spectrum was diverse despite centering on the same character. In comedies, she was the loose woman pious landlords chased after, or the prostitute with a heart of gold. She was the woman who gets out of the house, becomes a part of daily hustle, knows how to spar with men, lives to the fullest, and at times pays the price for it. She was “…and Suzan Avcı”. Congratulations for the Honorary Award! -Murathan Mungan

Ülkü Erakalın

Ülkü Erakalın is one of the exceptional talents of our cinema. I have met him in December 1963. It was right around the time when I had just completed starring in my first film Young Girls. He called me on the phone and stated that he wanted to work with me in his upcoming film Mualla, starring Türkan Şoray which he was going to direct in January 1964. He told me that I had to improve my acting in time, and also stated the importance of images in cinema as a visual art form. The veteran actors–dear Türkan Şoray, Suzan Avcı, Aliye Rona, Kenan Pars, and Avni Dilligil–whom I co-starred with in that film, have embraced me with loving, open arms. It is impossible for me to forget the friendship Mr. Erakalın showed me. The genial affection that I received on that set is instrumental in my continuing in this special profession. We collaborated in many films in the following years. He is a very meticulous director. He arrives on the set before everyone else. He outlines the scenes, determines the angles, shares his ideas and feelings about the scene with actors and then starts the shoot. He pays attention to everyone individually and follows the scenes as he also acts out behind the camera. I have thoroughly enjoyed every single film I worked on with him. I wish him health and further success in his life. Dear Ülkü, so glad to have you! As cinema artists, we thank you for the love and loyalty you bestowed upon us, and those unforgettable films you gave to Turkish audiences. Stay with love! -Ediz Hun

Şerafettin Gür

I met Şeref Gür during my early youth. He was one of the first filmmakers I have ever met. At the time, he was the accounting manager of Erman Film. Later on, he became its general director. He founded Şeref Film in 1958. He produced unforgettable classics of our cinema such as Kurbanlık Katil, Vesikalı Yarim / My Prostitute Love, Ses, Pehlivan / The Wrestler, Düttürü Dünya, Yoksul. He worked with such prominent directors as Lütfi Ö. Akad, Atıf Yılmaz, and Zeki Ökten. He was highly instrumental in Yılmaz Güney’s ascent to lead roles. In 1959, Erman Film was about to adapt a story by Yaşar Kemal into a film called Ala Geyik. One day, Yılmaz Güney knocks on Yaşar Kemal’s door and tells him that he wants to play the lead in the film. Kemal, who didn’t like any of the actors that were brought in to play the part, looks at Yılmaz from head to toe and says: “You got it, Yılmaz. I was really thinking of an actor with your looks.” He calls Atıf Yılmaz, the director of the film. He shares his thoughts. Atıf Yılmaz objects, but Yaşar Kemal insists. Together they go to Erman Film and that is when Şeref Gür steps in. The three of them argue extensively. Şeref Gür and Atıf Yılmaz go to see Mr. Hürrem Erman, the owner of Erman Film. He calmly tells them: “I don’t care who you choose. You are responsible for this decision. You will face the consequences.” Eventually, through their decision and the responsibility they incurred, they have bestowed a great filmmaker such as Yılmaz Güney to Turkish Cinema. Just for this reason alone, their …ntribution will always be unforgettable. -Arif Keskiner

Perran Kutman

Perran Kutman was one of my brightest students at the conservatory. She was very gifted. She had certain suppleness which was easily adoptable to every role and situation. She was agile. She was a student in total control of her body. Watching her provided a sense of relief. She was a joy to behold on stage. I had that joy watching her both during her years at the conservatory and after. Audiences must have felt the same way since “Perran made it.” She made an indelible impression with all her works. During her last year at school, she joined the Ulvi Uraz Theatre with my blessings. Working with such a master artist imparted Perran with a lot. She shared the stage for many years not only with Ulvi Uraz, but many other distinguished names. She performed during the heyday of commercial theater in Turkey. Those were the years when the fire of theater in all of us burned the brightest. In time, she transitioned into film and TV. She carried her warmth to those mediums as well. How much we all loved her “Perihan Abla” character. I am so pleased that Istanbul Film Festival is honouring Perran Kutman this year. She is an artist worthy of such an important and prestigious accolade. -Yıldız Kenter

Jeyan Ayral Tözüm

Jeyan Tözüm has a long, continuous artistic journey dating back to 1939. The traditionally clichéd “I started when I was a kid,” is a true statement for Ms. Tözüm. She took the stage for the first time in 1939 in Peer Gynt at Istanbul Municipal Theatre where her father, the monumental actor and the right arm man of Muhsin Ertuğrul, Necdet Mahfi Ayral took her to. Following this, Ayral’s artistic life continued through 50 years of stage and exquisite voice-over work. During her film period, which started with Allah’ın Cenneti, she appeared in films such as Gençlik Günahı, Seven Ne Yapmaz, Uçuruma Doğru, Bozkurt Obası, Efsuncu Baba, Dertli Pınar, and the unforgettable Beklenen Şarkı / A Song to Long For. When asked “Who did you voice?” she answered “Ask me who I didn’t voice.” Except for Neriman Köksal, she voiced every leading lady in the history of Turkish Cinema along with Adalet Cimcoz and Nevin Akkaya. A poet once said: “Language is the ornament of the mind, word is the ornament of the language”. Jeyan Tözüm has so beautifully ornamented the words with her voice that her name which means “the roar of a lion” has put on a new meaning on stage, on film and behind the microphone; the painter who draws pictures of emotions with her voice. Scientists claim that sound never disappears, preserved forever in the universe. As one of the genuine stars of our cinema and stage, Jeyan Tözüm will remain and be remembered as a dulcet sound through her ever young voice in recordings and on film. I am utmostly elated by Istanbul Film Festival’s crowning of my beloved friend Ms. Tözüm as the diva of stage, cinema, and voice-over. Congratulations. Necip Sarıcı (Lale Film)


34. Istanbul Film Festival (2015)

Cinema Honorary Awards

Yılmaz Atadeniz

I spent my childhood in my uncle’s movie theatre watching in awe the cheap adventure films he shot. Those films were magnificent escapism machines for me. One day, I met the man who directed those films. The first time I met Yılmaz Atadeniz was in 2010 at a film festival in Elazığ. I rushed to his side and during the rest of the festival, I was right beside him, listening what he has to say and taking notes. Talking to him and listening him reminisce was like opening a treasure chest for a film critic like me who is devoted to fantasy and adventure films of Yeşilçam. I mostly like his Kilink adventures, but my absolute favorite which I never get tired of watching is his marvelous film Casus Kıran / Spy Trasher. He works such wonders with a tiny budget that I bet if Roger Corman knew him, he would stop praising himself. He not only made fantasy adventures but also tried his hand at Westerns, a genre quite daring for Turkish cinema. Once he cheered us up by saying “Italians were making Spaghetti Westerns. We were making Tarhana soup Westerns”… Throughout the years, he has done so many of them that I could easily say that he single-handedly created a genre in our cinema… Despite his advanced age Yılmaz Atadeniz is a chevalier who is still concerned about the industry and its workers, never ceasing to battle for their rights. Despite those who stomp on the name of Yeşilçam, he gives a lesson on how to be a real filmmaker wherever he goes… -Murat Tolga Şen

Cahit Berkay

Cahit Berkay, in his own words, is a “longtime dear friend” of mine whom I shared the stage with for many years. He composed music for many films most of which are still fresh in public memory. The exuberant reaction we get from audiences each time we play one of his film compositions at a concert without announcing the title, makes me realise over and over again how powerful soundtracks are. People say that our collective memory is weak. I believe this statement is completely false when it comes to Turkish cinema, film scores and especially those by Cahit Berkay. Cahit Berkay’s film scores, specifically the ones he composed in the 60s and 70s, thoroughly reflect the spirit of the times. Cahit and his band were right in the center of the Anatolian rock movement, a scene heavily influenced by psychedelic and progressive rock in the post-Beatles era. The fact that he is a multi-instrumentalist who can also play numerous traditional Turkish instruments formed the sound of his film scores. Back in those days film scores were recorded during live sessions unlike today’s computer programmed productions. I was a part of some of these sessions in which a bunch of musicians got together in a studio where the related parts of the film were reflected on a screen and the musicians played with emotions aroused by the images as the live performance was recorded.
Cahit Berkay’s film scores were out of the box compositions with unique personal touches devoid of any artificiality. That’s why they perfectly matched with the films and became unforgettable melodies in the public consciousness. -Taber Öngür

Nebahat Çehre

My acquaintance with Nebahat Çehre coincides with the beginning of my cinematic journey.
Yılmaz Güney’s arrival in Osmaniye for the filming of Dağların Oğlu (1965) was instrumental in my meeting with both Güney and his co-star Nebahat Çehre. My collaborations with Yılmaz Güney established my acquaintance with her, who was one of Güney’s favorite actors (and wife) at the time, and it lead to a lifelong friendship. Her star has risen during the 1960s which is considered to be the golden age of our cinema. It was a time when actors were chosen by what scripts demanded and not the other way around. Her star-making turn at the beginning of her career in Metin Erksan’s Acı Hayat / Bitter Life in which she managed to match her beauty with her talent played a major part in her career trajectory which lead to her working with Yılmaz Güney, and established her as an essential actress in Turkish cinema. Unlike most actresses, she wasn’t confined in the template that the industry cast for her, and thus she was able to play many different characters in a wide spectrum. By playing every character from passive, innocent, fragile, sentimental women in melodramas, which was essentially the official genre of the Turkish cinema at the time, to warrior women in period films and comic book adaptations, to women trapped by traditions of semi-feudal relations, and ferocious females of fantastic films, she proved that she is an actress of every genre. -Abdurrahman Keskiner

Safa Önal

Don't tell my father that I'm a screenwriter
Safa Önal’s father was one of the district governors of the young Republic, but he didn’t want his son to build a life on writing. Because he knew what kind of trouble awaited those who did. But his son didn’t listen to him. From an early age he has had read Ahmet Haşim, Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, Peyami Safa and especially Reşat Nuri Güntekin from cover to cover and already had set his heart on writing. Perhaps if he hadn’t went to the offices of Duru Film and signed a deal to write the screenplay for Kanlı Para / Blood Money, we would have known him as a fine writer. He is a Guinness World Records-certified screenwriter with 395 filmed screenplays. But this happened out of necessity. It is a fact that he had to pen so many scripts because he is one of the very few screenwriters who knew the society well, and literate enough to write good dialogue. However, what rendered him valuable was not the level of compulsory output, but the scripts he wrote for films that were ahead of their time. Being a keen observer, having an insight into the psyche of the Anatolian people, his relation with literature and his history in journalism and publishing have all worked in his advantage. That’s why he is able to write exquisite dialogues that flow from life itself and the spirit of the times. He has also made his mark in Yeşilçam as a director by making 24 films including Umut Dünyası. They say you can’t make a good film from a bad script. Önal verifies this statement… It’s a conundrum to ponder how many renowned screenwriters we have produced. Yet, the life experience of Safa Önal and his works brightly illuminates Yeşilçam and beyond. - Olkan Özyurt

Süleyman Turan

The year is 1966… That was the first time we worked together in a film called Vatan Kurtaran Aslan / The Lion who Saved the Country, a co-production between Erman and Sine Films. He was playing Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror. I was going to shoot a sequence from his profile. He smart-mouthed me by saying that his performance won’t come through if shot from the profile. He was right. I said, “do as I tell you.” It was apparent from his clenched jaw that he was irritated. That’s the day we became friends with Süleyman Turan. The year is 2015… We have never been apart. Süleyman is the actor I’ve worked the most with, and I’m the director he’s worked most with. He is one hell of an actor. He can play any part. He is a perfectionist who demands a reshoot when he doesn’t like his performance. Our great late cinematographer Kriton Ilyadis once said to me: “Tunç, you know this man is very cinematographic.” He is an actor, and a painter. He is famous for his comic books and comic strips. Also, for his inability to wake up early.
He is my essential actor. He is the ever-young oldboy of the Turkish cinema and one of its treasures. Our cinema should be proud of having an actor such as Süleyman Turan. I know I am. -Tunç Başaran

33. Istanbul Film Festival (2014)

Lifetime Achievement Award

Andrzej Wajda

The father of modern Polish cinema, Andrzej Wajda (1926) usually narrates the predicaments of people who are caught in the grip of societal and political events over which they don’t have control. Wajda, who contributed in the creation of a new cultural and political climate in Poland, was born to a cavalry officer who got killed during the Katyń massacre. He joined the Resistance when he was just 16. After the war, he studied fine arts in Krakow and attended to Łódź Film School. His trilogy of films, which started with his first feature Pokolenie / A generation (1954), continued with the first film ever made about the Warsaw Uprising Kanal (1956) and completed with his masterpiece Popiół i diament / Ashes and Diamonds (1958), depicts the social and psychological pains caused by war. They also mark the start of Polish school in film which he started. The director not only started the Polish school with his famous trilogy, but also reached audiences in other countries. In early ‘70s, he founded his own production unit “Unit X”. He aligned himself with young directors like Agnieszka Holland and Ryszard Bugajski. He took advantage of his international prestige to realize projects that were considered politically “difficult”. He received an Honorary Oscar in 2000, for his more than 35 films. Wajda made another trilogy. In Man of Marble (1977) and Man of Iron (1980) he documented the increasing social unrest in his country and openly supported the Solidarity. The last film in his trilogy, Walesa Man of Hope, which will be screened at this year’s festival, brought him a fifth Oscar nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film category.

Photo © Lukasz Ostalski /East News

Cinema Honorary Awards

Umur Bugay

Umur Bugay! When I say his name, his cheerful face, his refined, elegant wit, and his agreeable conversations come to my mind, and I smile. We were introduced by Zeki Öktem in the 1960s. At the time, he was concentrated on the theatre. Our friendship which has started with the screenplay for Atıf Yılmaz’s Deli Yusuf, and continued with Düttürü Dünya and Yoksul is still going on strong. Umur is very prolific. He has been a writer, director and actor in the theatre–a man of literature, author, magazine writer, screenwriter of close to 50 films and a record holder in Turkish TV as the writer and producer of 465 episodes of TRT’s 14-season running Bizimkiler, which he produced through his Bugay Film. He managed to keep all of his team together for many years on this popular show and discovered new actors; brought in stage actors from Ankara to Istanbul, to our cinema, to our cultural lives. Umur Bugay has always shared what he gained in the industry with his colleagues, been respectful to his predecessors and loving to newcomers, and as his friend, I’m as happy as he is for receiving this award. –Şeref Gür

Sevda Ferdağ

Being a star was of no concern for her… She didn’t care for it, but in the minds of the audience and the public she held a special place. I have known Sevda since the ‘70s, and been a close witness of the modest and proud life she has been leading. Being and living free at all times is crucial for her and she never compromises that. She knows when to say no. After their first encounter, Halit Refiğ had said of her: “a fleet of a woman…” He was impressed with Sevda’s naturalness and had given her the coveted role of Naciye of Maraş in his film Gurbet Kuşları / Birds of Foreign Land. That was a career defining moment for Sevda. During the period when there was little interest for Turkish films she tried her hand at singing. She is passionate and thus refused to do another job in between her stage work. She took music lessons and wanted to perform as a singer, as best as she could. But the fire of cinema never died down in her heart. She has worked with almost all of the master directors of Turkish cinema; from Yılmaz Güney to Halit Refiğ, from Atıf Yılmaz to Metin Erksan, from Ömer Kavur to Feyzi Tuna… During the golden age of Turkish cinema in the ‘60s, she has broken a record by working in 24 films in one year. Although she was rebellious, strong-headed and sharp-tongued, she managed to get accepted and starred in 150 films. In recent years she has also appeared in TV projects. She had shared the stage with a theatre doyenne like Nejat Uygur. When she is offered a part she wants to know who the director is first before finding out her role. She never objects to anything that the role demands. At first she was type casted as a femme fatale, but she has managed to break out of that by playing widely different characters. Her journey in cinema which she started when she was 16 still continues. She succeeded in being a long lasting actress… She is a dissonant Sevda–an unusual love affair… –Biket İlhan

Abdurrahman Keskiner

It’s really impossible to remember when we met with Uncle Apo and traveled those roads, shared the same friendly tables together. To have someone like him in your life… it’s impossible to explain. That’s why I always considered myself lucky. As Yeşilçam is a family home for us, Uncle Apo is an elder brother of that family. He doesn’t tolerate any one of his brothers being hassled or exploited. Let’s say someone from the industry starts shooting a film and for whatever reason the production is halted or having difficulties to even start. It’s enough to knock on Uncle Apo’s door and look him in the eyes. He quietly asks as if sharing a secret: “Brother, tell me whatever you need. We’ll do the best we can…” All it takes is that he sees the human in you and recognizes the Y of Yeşilçam in your heart.
In our sector there have always been unseen heroes when it comes to establishing a union or an association. Uncle Apo is always one of the first to say “I know very well what labor struggle is. Know that I’m with you all the way.” And he would quietly disappear. He doesn’t need flattery, hyperbole or applause. He says “Let’s go brother!” and you’ll find yourself sitting on a nicely prepared table. He tells never-ending yarns, all of which are true! He never gets enough of talking about Yaşar Kemal, Orhan Kemal, Yılmaz Güney. At his tables, centuries just flow by. He keeps telling about the Anavarza Castle, Snake Mountain, Dadaloğlu, his hero Karacaoğlan… He knows his words and songs by heart. He talks about the elegies he heard when he was a child, the horses his father shoed. He always says the best last words: “Friends, let’s not lose our hope. Wait and see what the new day will bring…” Whenever he gets his hands on a good hot pepper he manages to send it to me: “Here brother, this one is mighty hot”. We empty our pockets and share our pain. It’s good to share it with your uncle.

Eşref Kolçak

One of the most significant actors of Turkish cinema through 60 years of a film career–enjoyed as much as suffered through... Starting with Fedakâr Ana (1949) in which he shared the lead with the legendary Cahide Sonku, and up to Güle Güle / Raindrop (2000) he has consistently dedicated himself to acting, and his dancing experience must have helped. He even trotted the Yeşilçam streets, he was at the zenith in the 1960s as the jeune premier. When he was catapulted to stardom in 1953 with Affet Beni Allahım, he was just 26-years-old, making everyone admire him–a tall, lanky, handsome young man who got himself in trouble while trying to clear himself from his muddled past. As per the naive screenplays of the time, he saved many people’s “honours,” was featured in adventure-dramas, at times beaten up, sometimes beat people up, but has always been the audience sweetheart as the “kind-hearted man.” He was already the beloved of masses with the poor but dignified man torn between class differences, the struggle of life, and two women in Bir Şoförün Gizli Defteri (1958). He was not a man of class, but he would look stunning in a suit (Kumpanya, 1958); he would be threatening with a gun in his hand (Kurşun Yağmuru,1962), determined as a military officer (Düşman Yolları Kesti, 1958), one of us in the family comedy (Ayşecik, Şeytan Çekici, 1960). Like a local Zorro, he would be in disguise and look great (Dağlar Bulutlu Efem, 1962).
He worked with significant directors, worked very hard and took part in close to 200 films. It is still a privilege to watch Eşref Kolçak as an essential character actor who is still a part of cinema.

Attila Özdemiroğlu

In order to fully comprehend the importance of certain names, we have to think as “what would we have lacked if they didn’t exist,” instead of listing their accomplishments. Atilla Özdemiroğlu is one of those names. Since he started music at a very early age, his career is coeval with our pop music. In the tumultuous days of the 60s, when almost nothing was clearly defined in pop, Özdemiroğlu and his friends (most prominently Şanar Yurdatapan) preferred to make this newly imported music not randomly, but by meticulously thinking, experimenting and testing, hence turning their musical lives, and of those who chose to follow their example, into heaven. Atilla Özdemiroğlu is a very accomplished musician and a brilliant creator. The form of the songs he composed and the production he adorned them with are completely extraordinary. The “stinginess” we witness in many creators, that reluctance to pass along the knowledge and know-how to one’s peers is nowhere to be seen in Özdemiroğlu. He has always put in the effort to share his abundant experience with anyone he worked with… Without him, our music market would have missed a certain point of view–a collaborative point of view. There would have been many names missing, a long list of stars such as Sezen Aksu, Nil Burak, Melike Demirağ, and İskender Doğan. ŞAT Productions, the company he co-founded with Şanar Yurdatapan, functioned like a star and hit-making machine throughout the 70s. In his absence, many songs like “Petrol”, “Firuze”, “Sevda”, and “Eskidendi Çok Eskiden” would also be missing from our pop music catalogue. And undoubtedly, films that would have been incomplete or less powerful: Muhsin Bey, Arabesk, Ağır Roman, Anayurt Oteli / Motherland Hotel, Teyzem / My Aunt. Without Özdemiroğlu’s score would Müjde Ar’s deep melancholia rapidly descending into madness be that tangible, that heart-wrenching? We gained a lot with his presence. We still do. In his own right, Atilla Özdemiroğlu is a big award for our music. –Naim Dilmener

İrfan Tözüm

İrfan Tözüm is a quintessential 80s filmmaker. He had his early start in journalism, advertising, photonovel directing, starting out as an assistant to Duygu Sağıroğlu, made his debut with 1986’s feature Çağdaş Bir Köle / A Modern Slave. It has all the characteristics of the era: “women’s films” exploding on the scene unexpectedly, and independent, master-of-her-destiny female characters… “Intellectual” screenplays which were products of collaborations especially with writer-actor Macit Koper, during a time when national cinema was making a move towards “works by intellectuals” from mass appeal films. A balanced formalism and a thriving workmanship… This effort eventually produced ten films from 1986 to 1996. Some of these are adapted from famous plays and stories–Rumuz: Goncagül / Sign: Rosebud by Oktay Arayıcı, İkili Oyunlar / Double Games by Bilgesu Erenus, Devlerin Ölümü / Death of Giants by Sabahattin Ali. The others are based on original scripts. Specifically his collaboration with Macit Koper on Cazibe Hanımın Gündüz Düşleri / Daydreams of Miss Cazibe, as I have written at the time, is an “uncompromising and brave” film, a unique contribution to the women’s films trend of the era with its dense sexuality. One of his best films, Fazilet, shot from a screenplay by Gülin Tokat and Gökay Özgüç, is a fully-formed portrait of a woman. Mum Kokulu Kadınlar / Candle Scented Women is a film written by Tözüm himself and tackles his most typical themes: female sexuality, weird, almost perverted family relations, an analytical approach based on Freud’s teachings. Extraordinary opportunities are offered to actresses in Tözüm’s films. Sure enough, women essentially breathed, confronted their issues, and lived their lives by satisfying their desires in his films. Right next to Atıf Yılmaz, he is probably the one director that deserves the title of “director of women”. After his last directorial effort in 1996, he continues to be a film and TV producer through his Muhteşem Films. –Atilla Dorsay

Marin Karmitz

Upon hearing Marin Karmitz’ name, a critic who puts cinema in the centre of his/her life and loves to watch films in a movie theatre is immediately reminded of the films of Godard, Chabrol, Resnais, Ripstein, Kieslowski, Kiarostami and Yılmaz Güney’s The Wall. Thanks to his multi-faceted personality, the question of “who is Marin Karmitz” can be replied with more than one gratifying answer. A director, producer, distributor… But the reply to the question “which one of his achievements is the dearest,” is singular: “He changed the concept of the business of operating a film theatre in the world.” Marin Karmitz, who reclaimed the box-office potential of films outside of the popular, mainstream films, is a pioneer in art-house film distribution. His company MK2, which carries his initials, is the owner of a prestigious chain of 12 film theatres with a total of 65 screens. This powerful and respected persona, who operates in every aspect of film production and distribution, was educated at IDHEC–the best film school in France at the time. He worked as a cameraman and a producer and made short films. When he couldn’t get these films distributed, he decided to take risks as an investor. He opened his first movie theatre in the Bastille neighbourhood with the motto “working classes should not go to see films to be numbed by taking refuge in escapist films.” Today, we know that commercial concerns cause more censorship than political oppression. The biggest obstacle for creativity is auto-censoring in order to appeal to the common denominator. Marin Karmitz is one of the patrons of cinema who helped it reach the audience in all its genres and styles. One should think how art-house and uncensored films would be distributed in France without him and how audiences would reach these films if there were no art-house theatres in other countries which followed his example. We cannot imagine a history of cinema without Karmitz, just as we cannot imagine it without Truffaut. – Alin Taşçıyan


32. Istanbul Film Festival (2013)

Lifetime Achievement Award


Master of politically themed films was practically born into politics: Costa-Gavras has spent his teenage years during World War II in a village in Greece, where his father was a member of the resistance, who was imprisoned after the war as communist. His father’s condition prevented him from joining university in Greece, whereupon he started his education in law in France, and continued studying filmmaking at the IDHEC in Paris. Who can deny that the Elias character in his film Eden is West (2009) does not reflect his experiences of those days as a new immigrant while tackling the issue in general. The first step of his film career comes following his work as assistant to a master, René Clair. His debut is Compartiment Tueurs / The Sleeping Car Murders (1965). With his lead actor Yves Montand, he makes the three significant films that have become the epitomes of his political films: Z, L’aveu / The Confession and L’état de siège / The State of Siege. The peak of his career is Missing which shared the Palm d’or with Yılmaz Güney–Şerif Gören’s Yol in 1982. Later winning the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, Missing told the story of a father looking for his son who had “disappeared” under custody in Pinochet’s Chile. Gavras frequently revisited the central issues in Missing –the abuse of power, fascism, corruption, human rights abuses... He tackled these universal issues, and conveyed political messages while not giving up commercial values that embrace wider audiences. In this sense, among his targets was the Catholic Church in Amen, and global powers collaborating with banks in his latest work Capital - in the festival program this year. Thankfully, Costa-Gavras is still not finished dealing with the vicious system.

Cinema Honorary Awards

Peter Weir

A part of the Australian New Wave in the 1970s, Peter Lindsay Weir started his career as a camera and production assistant. He moved on to feature films from shorts. Even with his debut he tackled those irrational forces which would bring chaos onto our world as we know it  - The Cars that Ate Paris (1974) is a predominantly black humoured gothic horror story. This was followed by Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) with its memorable mood, and the eerie The Last Wave (1977). Underlining the isolation of Australia, Gallipoli (1982) brought him international renown. Weir is keen in telling about maladjusted people who find themselves in surroundings where they don’t belong to.

Coincidences helped him out. He was inspired by a newspaper story for his first film. The second was an adaptation from Joan Lindsay’s book. The third was inspired by a Roman head sculpture unearthed in Tunisia. He took off from an incident he had experienced with his friends for the TV film The Plumber. His guide in Gallipoli was the actual battlefield which he wandered for two days.

His Hollywood days started with The Witness, he was lauded for Dead Poets Society (1989) with Robin Williams in the dramatic lead; he had a five-year hiatus after Green Card (1990) and Fearless (1993); The Truman Show (1998) this time starred Jim Carrey in a dramatic role. Five years later, he returned with Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. He planned to make a humble film after The Way Back (2010), and we are still anticipating: a Peter Weir film, classy, masterful and narrative-based...

– Sevin Okyay

Ayşe Şasa

Hers is an arduous adventure in an image of the world: cinema. Shakespeare had said the world is a stage. The world is cinema. As Khayyam said “we are puppets of fate / flickering on screen”. Ayşe Şasa has managed to overcome a difficult role on this so called stage, led a burdensome but fruitful life and to this day she is still a film artist, worker and thinker, sensitive to what’s going on in this old world.

Her story on Earth starts in 1941. She pens her first screenplay in 1963 with Çapkın Kız. Her notable works are Son Kuşlar / Last Birds, Murad’ın Türküsü, Ah Güzel İstanbul / Oh, Beautiful Istanbul (1966), Yedi Kocalı Hürmüz (1971), Cemo, Deli Kan, Hacı Arif Bey, And Recep and Zehra and Ayşe, Merdoğlu Ömer Bey, Gramofon Avrat / Gramophone, Arkadaşım Şeytan / Mephisto, My Friend, Her Gece Bodrum, Kanayan Bosna / Bosnia, the Open Wound, and Dinle Neyden / Listen from the Nay.

A part of Kemal Tahir’s intellectual circle, Şasa worked with and was a comrade of renowned Turkish directors such as Lütfi Akad, Halit Refiğ, Atıf Yılmaz, Yusuf Kurçenli, and Bülent Oran. Her essays in Dergâh were published under the title of Yeşilçam Günlüğü (Yeşilçam Diary), and were popular with young generations of film enthusiasts as they helped in shaping a film language unique to this land. “The technique of cinema is rooted in societal culture. Every society must construct and develop the core technique of cinema –that is cinematography– in line with the mechanisms of its own social culture,” says Şasa, vehemently pointing out that cinema is not a luxury and that it should be approached with a comprehensive holistic view.

– Sadık Yalsızuçanlar

Aytekin Çakmakçı

Aytekin Çakmakçı was born in Trabzon in 1949. He started at a very young age as a set photographer and camera assistant and turned into a master cinematographer. Starting from Acı / Pain in 1984 he worked in 75 cinema and TV productions. Among these Kan / Blood, Yılanların Öcü / Revenge of the Snakes, Güneşe Köprü / Bridge to the Sun, Prenses / Princess, Sen Türkülerini Söyle / Sing a Song, Çağdaş Bir Köle / A Modern SlaveBir Avuç Gökyüzü / A Handful of Sky, Biri ve Diğerleri / One and the Others, Muhsin Bey, İpekçe, Arabesk / Arabesque, Düttürü Dünya / The Queer World from the 80’s and Kurt Kanunu / The Wolf Law, Uzlaşma / The Consensus, Cazibe Hanımın Gündüz Düşleri / Daydreams of Miss Cazibe, Yumuşak Ten / Soft Skin, Işıklar Sönmesin / Let There Be Light, Mum Kokulu Kadınlar / Candle Scented Women, Avrupalı / European from the 90’s are especially notable.

Çakmakçı was part of many successful films by a great variety of directors such as Şerif Gören, Tunç Başaran, Ertem Eğilmez, Orhan Aksoy, Zeki Ökten, Bilge Olgaç, Erdoğan Tokatlı, Ersin Pertan, İrfan Tözüm, Sinan Çetin, Reis Çelik, and Ümit Elçi. He is known as an accomplished artist who is a master of his craft from theory to practice. That is why his lectures at many universities and institutions such as Anadolu, Marmara, Mimar Sinan, 9 Eylül, Istanbul Tech universities, and IFSAK are an integral part of his life.

He received a Golden Orange as the best director of cinematography at Antalya in 1986 for his work in Revenge of the Snakes and a Golden Cocoon at Adana in 1996 for Candle Scented Women and Let There be Light. His first work for TV came in 1987 with Yalnız Efe and continued with Yaprak Dökümü / Leaf Cast. He intensified his TV work throughout the 2000s. He seems to be returning to cinema in recent years. He opened his first personal exhibition of photographs in 1999 and continues to be an ardent photographer.

– Atilla Dorsay

Lale Belkıs

The question “Can a fashion model be an actor or singer?” occupied minds in the 80s. Or is it common for those we call “models” to embark upon other areas? The jury is still out on the answer. For those who answer “absolutely, no!” surely there are valid reasons. For those who say “yes, of course!” they have a solid example: Lale Belkıs.

She is one of those artists who came out on top in every endeavour she branches out into. We had very few of such artists: Hümeyra, Zuhal Olcay and a few more, because these are extraordinary artists. They don’t change their time/space just so the market forces demand, but because they authentically have something to say.

Lale Belkıs is just one of those people. That is why she has achieved in music and film unlike anyone else. It is because she’s the living epitome of “never too late to learn”. She searches, researches, does her homework and then starts the work… Surely, possessing that rare quality we call “talent” is a requisite, but then again Lale Belkıs has always had it in spades.

It’s hard to say that the Turkish cinema had provided her with parts worthy of her talent. In fact, it was quite the opposite: she was never given the chance. That certainly didn’t stop her. In even tiny bits she was given, she managed to outshine bigger parts and often the whole film. Lastly, she was always befit with villainous parts. Ingeniously, she always found ways to interject a dose of good-heartedness into these roles. How, you ask? Just with her acting. That’s all.

Naim Dilmener 

Ahmet Mekin

With his alluring looks and profound cornflower blue eyes Ahmet Mekin has immortalised the characters he played. Because of his eye-catching good looks he immediately started his career in cinema as a leading man, but he preferred the more difficult character roles that left a lasting impression. His confidence in his craft and his ease in front of the camera made him a commanding presence on screen.

A film is carried by strong characters. Ahmet Mekin puts audiences under a spell with powerful performances he gives in every role he takes on. The prime example of this is his portrayal of Cemşit in The Girl with the Red Scarf. A road builder and a man of integrity, Cemşit is played with such authenticity by Mekin that is integral to the film’s popularity. He garners widespread respect with his years of hard work in the film industry, culture and personal life, and with his characteristic face which only becomes more expressive as years go by he will surely continue to create memorable roles. He is one of my beloved colleagues. Unfortunately, we only had the chance to work in a few films together. He is a true friend who is principled, honest and leads a humble life. I am proud that he is my colleague.

– Türkan Şoray

31st Istanbul Festival

Cinema Honorary Awards

Halit Akçatepe

The son of Sıtkı Akçatepe, a celebrated stage actor of the time, and his peer Leman Akçatepe, Halit Akçatepe is my schoolmate at the Yeşilköy Boarding Elementary. 1940s, and we are both boarders. When we take a look at this acquaintance from years further, it is somewhat misty. As far as I would recall those days, Halit was a rambunctious child, but isn’t he now? As such, he is a 74-year-old child who hasn’t grown up.

There’s an interesting story behind Halit Akçatepe’s film career. He was 6 when he first showed up in front of the camera. From his first film Nasreddin Hoca at the Wedding (1942) until 1954, he took part as child actor in 16 films. The stardom of Halit Akçatepe who acted in 79 films (excluding TV series or stage plays) from 1942 to 2009, would come following his much overlooked childhood years, during his youth and later maturity. He becomes an “actor” especially in 1972 with Sev Kardeşim / Love, Bro!. He would later adopt and maintain “team acting” in Ertem Eğilmez’ crowded casted films. Following Mavi Boncuk / Blue Bead, and Bizim Aile / Our Family he would leave his indelible mark on Turkish comedy cinema with the Hababam Sınıfı series of films. Indeed, Halit Akçatepe seems to have come straight from the Hababam Sınıfı novels by Rıfat Ilgaz, as the incarnation of the “Güdük Necmi” (stubby) character.

Easier said than done, his is a life odyssey that incorporates a 60-year-long resistance, to stand tall, to struggle to exist. His masters in cinema, Münir Özkul and Ertem Eğilmez, alongside Kemal Sunal and Adile Naşit, and his father Sıtkı Akçatepe with whom he had acted together, are his unforgettable colleagues. A.K.A. “Stubby,” he is in short, an ever-smiling, inviting, amiable, warm and joyous character who harbours a rock-hard core. He is a tough man, so cunning! But he would always live with that “smiling mask”, a reflection of his inner world...

Agâh Özgüç

Terence Davies

 “We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time.” – T.S. Eliot

While he read these lines with his deep, profound voice in Of Time and the City (2008), Terence Davies underlines crucial clues pertaining to the nature of remembering. This film that he had dedicated to Liverpool, where he was born in and grew up at –just like his other films which precipitate from his experiences– are constructed not as a mirror reflection, but rather as a collage of floating memories flitting about. As such, Terence Davies’ handful of cinematic poems he made in 30 years, are not untouchable “idols.” Starting with his trilogy of short films shot in 1976, 1980 and 1983, his chain of personal memories (in his own words) triggers each other like the rings in the water when you throw in a rock. This complex circularity is similar, be it a literary adaptation (House of Mirth, 2000) or autobiographical (Long Day Closes, 1992). His childhood and adolescence were spent in during and post-World War II England. The authoritarian school and passionist Catholic teachings, but still “light” at home is not missing albeit the strict father; his loving mother and siblings, the magic of cinema, the song which everybody joins in at some time, they all emphasise this contrast. For instance in Distant Voices, Still Lives (1998) which is somehow autobiographical as well, we watch the empty stairwell that leads to the upper floor of the house. There is nobody around, but we hear certain voices in the background. The time that flows through our fingers is captured so cinematically and delicately, it is there! Therefore, it is not surprise that he was called the “Proust of worker’s class.” The reason he is considered the most important English filmmaker is because he knows the raison d’etre of cinema. This is why memories shine a different light than a personal photo album. While he uncovers photographs from their locked drawers –personal or common– we feel dizzy because of the conflicting emotions we feel. This must be the awareness that we are not the master of our own memories. Similarly, like in Eliot’s poem, neither of time.

– Esin Küçüktepepınar

Ayşen Gruda

Three of my distinguished friends will be the recipients of The Cinema Honorary Awards of the 31st Istanbul Film Festival. Hereby, I congratulate Ali Özgentürk and Halit. And then there’s Ayşen, who still continues strong since she started in 1975, always creating, always broadening her mind… She always managed to get as much attention as the lead actor. How she does that, nobody knows. The answer is hidden in the magic of film; she made her mark with her face that suits the screen and her charisma, not with her physical appearance. She has always been one of the first names that people thought of when they think about comediennes. As in many other things our cinema is poor when it comes to female comics. In that respect, Ayşen is our treasure.

Arzu Film has been a school for many of us. When we were there in the middle of a creative process, there were never arguments about a role being good or bad. It was a very disciplined school. The important thing was the script. Everybody worked hard to make the script come alive. Sometimes what stays with you from an entire film is just a small frame, a mimic, a face. Ayşen is one of those things that stay with you. Being a comic actor has always been difficult on the silver screen. Very few people were able to pull it off in our cinema. One of them is Ayşen. She has managed to fit close to 50 films, dozens of TV series and unforgettable stage plays in her career. Tosun Paşa (1976), Hababam Sınıfı (1977), Neşeli Günler (1978), Gırgıriye series (1980s), Davaro, Çiçek Abbas, Namuslu… which ones should I count? These films have influenced who knows how many generations. Is there anyone out there who doesn’t get nostalgic when they see a random scene from these films? Becoming a master in acting happens with the combination of intuition, technique and creativity. To be able to maintain this nuanced position for 40 years is the product of a subtle perspective. I salute those who capture quality and persevere in cinema.

Tarık Akan


Sevin Okyay

Everybody knows that Sevin is very cultured, very hard-working, very kind-hearted, very smart, and generous. You can learn a lot from her writings, use her vast culture in film as an encyclopedia, enrich your world with her book suggestions, or even lay on her lap to take shelter in her tenderness … She is “one of a kind” who possesses all. But her uniqueness has a quality beyond all these things: Sevin is one of those free spirited people who “carry her time on herself”.

The inhumane concept of time imposed on us is geared towards expelling every functionless thing in our lives, and it is expected that everybody gets stuck in the same rhythm. Alhough from time to time Sevin mandatorily converges with this rhythm out of her grand sense of responsibility (for example, she always delivers requested work on time), she is such a strong protagonist of her own “core-time” that you would have difficulty keeping up with her: she does work that pays close to zilch, but when necessary walks for miles just to see a film without giving in to being broke; threatens the author of a book she is translating with dropping the work because they killed her favorite character; never loses her patience with viewing the cinema with the liberal criteria of art history; since she has this freedom she treats others with endless tolerance...

It is possible to infer the originality of “Sevin Okyay Time” from her discourse. As a critic, she always searches for her beloved in her discourse. Hers is a hopeful discourse that goes after the “good” in what she likes, not the “bad” in what she dislikes. She’s described herself as “an awkward, shy and antisocial creature” in an interview. I agree with her with great admiration: Is it possible not to admire her ability to reject “short cuts” in the face of not being deft, her humility that brings her respect to others to the level of “not demanding”, and her efforts to conceal the fact that she is a kid fallen into the adults’ world?

Her “own time” shines like a “Neptune” in the dim light of the world of “deft, extroverted, and social creatures”. We find joy and solace in her light.

Reha Erdem

Ali Özgentürk

Without a doubt, Ali Özgentürk is one of the leading names among the generation that started filmmaking in the 80s. Özgentürk, who hails from Adana and is a graduate of Sociology Department of the Faculty of Literature, was involved in theatre beginning in the early years of his studies and brought theatre to the streets with his troupe Street Theatre. He gained attention in the 70s with his short films such as Ferhat and Forbidden. He later served as an assistant to Yılmaz Güney and Zeki Ökten, and in 1980 he transitioned to directing with his first feature Hazal. At the time Hazal was very well received and praised by the critics, and I had written “a cinema that recalls the most mature period of Pasolini.” When I re-watched it 30 years later at an event in Amiens, France, I saw that it still had the same power and beauty about it.

The cinema of Özgentürk, which blends realism with symbolism, continued in films such as The Horse and The Guardian with participations from authors like Onat Kutlar and Işıl Özgentürk. About the former Özgentürk has said “an attempt to capture the natural flow of life in one of the most bizarre cities in the world: Istanbul.” This was one of the most interesting products of Özgentürk’s efforts to capture the fantastic that emanates from reality as opposed to classical realism. The Guardian was an attempt to adopt Orhan Kemal’s renowned novel Murtaza in a different way.

His later films such as Water Also Burns, about a director’s creative block, Nude, which is dominated by surrealism, and The Letter, a “war-horse” story, were much debated. He started the 2000’s with Balalayka; another collaboration with Işıl Özgentürk. The film, which blends melancholia with humour, reconciled him with the press and his audience. After The Time of the Heart, a story of love and murder which takes place entirely in the backdrop of Pera Palas, and The Crab Game, a big family saga, he directed his latest film Unseen about renowned Hungarian composer Bela Bartok who visited Turkey during Atatürk’s era to study local folk music.

Ali Özgentürk, who directed 10 feature films and half a dozen shorts, deserves to be re-watched and evaluated with all his works. Let’s hope that this lovely award will become a new opportunity to do that. 

Atilla Dorsay 


30th Istanbul Film Festival (2011)

Cinema Honorary Award


Metin Akpınar

Metin Akpınar is one of the most outstanding actors of the last 40 years of Turkish theatre. His particular talent, his specialty in moulding [his characters], his ability to meticulously analyse the characters he portrays, his superb comprehension of his audience, and his discipline on stage has crowned him with a place among the masters of Turkish theatre. He has conveyed these qualities to Ertem Eğilmez’ films and to the movies he made with Zeki Alasya. He earned a place in the hearts of millions of cinemagoers with the numerous films he has made.

Metin is a philosopher. He takes pleasure in sharing and discussing his humanism, his ethic understanding, and his worldview, which he has gained and developed since his youth with his friends during hours-long dinners. He is straightforward. He always stands behind his words. He despises lies and trickery.

I met Metin in 1963. In 1965, we started working together at the Ulvi Uraz Theatre. In 1967, Haldun Taner, Zeki Alasya, Metin and I founded the Devekuşu Kabare Tiyatrosu (Devekuşu Cabaret Theatre). We learned a lot from Ulvi Uraz; we taught each other a lot in Devekuşu. We brought up quite many stars from our theatre. During our 15-year-long friendship, we never broke each other’s heart and we never disappointed each other.

As friends close like brothers, Metin and I shared what was dear to us. He had a home in my house and I had a home in his. We parted ways in 1978. Although we see each other rarely, Metin is still my oldest friend. Greetings, master Metin!

Ahmet Gülhan

Zeki Alasya

Zeki Alasya is one of the rare actors who have not lost touch with their inner child. Acting with him is a beautiful adventure, because anything can happen at any given moment. I am such one person who has experienced this many times. It was from him that I learned to entertain both the spectators and myself on stage. Just as his first name suggests, Alasya is an intelligent person. His contribution to the success of the long-lived Devekuşu Kabare Tiyatrosu (Devekuşu Cabaret Theatre) is immense. (Of course, at this point we also need to mention [great stage artists associated with the same theater] Haldun Taner, Metin Akpınar, Ahmet Gülhan.) I learned a lot at the Devekuşu Cabaret Theatre. Just like me, I imagine many other actors, too, have learned a lot. Another strong aspect of Alasya is his literary side. He has written wonderful skits. Besides all this, he is skilled at stage design. He reads a lot and is very competent. He is a very good director. He is a wonderful friend. I salute this masterly actor in the classical way: Hail to you master Zeki!

Ayşen Gruda

Yusuf Kurçe